Got Ojas??? (Got Milk?)
What is it? (From Caraka Samhita)
Ojas is the is our vital sap, our immunity, our protector of the body and mind. Without it, no creature exists.It supports the immune system and stabilizes the mind and brings a deep sense of contentment. Our goal in Ayurveda is to keep our digestive fire strong in order produce all 7 tissues (lymph, blood, muscle, fat, bone, nerve, reproductive organs) and then finally ojas. It is the essence of complete digestion of food and thoughts. It is the initial essence of the embryo and its nourishment. It is a hormone -like substance which is derived from Shukra. Ojas produces our aura.
Where does it live?
Ojas resides in the heart. The Heart and Mind are connected in Ayurveda. Our soul and ojas live in the heart. If you disturb one, you disturb the other. One cannot be disturbed without the other. It enters the cardiac cycle 1st. The heart is the seat of sattva (pure mind) and wisdom (buddhi). In other words, the ojas is essential for the mind to be stable, peaceful, wise and loving. As ojas becomes depleted, the mind becomes disturbed and our capacity to truly know love diminishes. Over use of the mind (Rajas or mental turbulence) and poor usage of the mind( tamas or mental dullness) can diminish ojas in the heart. The result is heart disease and poor immunity.
What are the Qualities of Ojas?
Ojas is heavy, cold, soft, smooth, dense, stable, clear, and slippery or oily. It has the qualities of sweetness. When these qualities are taken into the body, they support ojas. When the opposite qualities are taken in, they destroy ojas.
What increases Ojas?
- Foods: ghee, whole grains, milk, dates, honey, sesame oil, organic foods, home cooked warm meals prepared with love
- Herbs: shatavari, ashwagandha, vidari, maca, guduchi, gokshura, shilajit, saffron, bringaraj, kapikacchu, brahmi, jatamamsi, pippali, neem, turmeric, manjishtha, kutki, triphala, haritaki, amalaka, bibhitaki, arjuna, kutaj, ashok, chyavanaprash, tulsi, licorice, vacha/calamus, gotu kola, shankapushpi, bala, vidanga, …
- Lifestyle: proper food, proper sleep, proper sex, warm oil self-massage (abhyanga) , shirodhara (warm oil on forehead), healthy relationships, rejuvenation for the senses from nature (decrease electronic usage), control of senses, smiling/laughter/kind words, compassion
- PanchaKarma – deep ayurvedic cleansing and rejuvenation regimen to reset digestive power, usually 8-10 days, proper digestive fire leads to proper formation of ojas
- Ethics of Life– live according to the yamas:
- food/sexual moderation/brahmacharya,
- Practices: 1:1 breathing for stability, 1:2 breathing for calmness, meditation or mantra (SO-HUM, or OM), slower paced yoga practice, moving in yoga practice in accordance with the breath (opening on inhales, contracting on exhales), connecting with the immortal essence of our being however that manifests for you,
What decreases Ojas?
Improper food, sleep, sex, too much sensory stimuli, chemotherapy drugs, alcohol, poisons, stress, incomplete/improper digestion of food and thoughts
Alcohol has the opposite qualities of ojas. Alcohol is light, hot, sharp, subtle, pervasive, expansive, and mobile. It is also drying. It has a predominantly sour taste. Having the opposite qualities, alcohol destroys ojas. Alcohol usage indues both rajas and tamas; awareness is compromised by the rise of rajas and tamas. As rajas and tamas rise, we can no longer hear the wise whisperings of the soul. People sometimes use alcohol to dull the awareness that brings new and unpleasant realizations. People use alcohol to dull the pain. The healing journey is long and filled with ups and downs. Be patient; be kind to yourself. Practice self-compassion.
Ojas Drink Recipe
- 10 almonds, soaked (8 hrs) or blanche them in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and run under cold water, then remove and discard their skins.
- 1 c whole milk or almond or rice milk
- 2 t ghee
- 4-5 dates
- ½ t cardamom
- ½ t cinnamon
- pinch of saffron
- optional 1/8 tsp black pepper
- Optional Add Ojas-building herbs to the milk (1/4 tsp of each): shatavari, ashwagandha
- Liquefy all ingredients in a blender until it reaches a smooth consistency. Pour into a pot on the stove and bring to a gentle boil. Stir and serve.
By Mary Bruck, Ayurvedic Doctoral Practitioner practicing Ayurveda and Yoga in the Boulder and Denver Areas in Colorado
- Based on Caraka Samhita, Ch. 24, Chikitsasthana, vs. 29-40